Editors Note: This is a rapidly developing story. Check back for updates
Updated 06/2021 10:31 local Arizona time
Another deadly day in the State of Arizona in the Southwestern USA as at least six cyclists participating the Bike The Bluff amateur state road championship event were mowed down by a large Ford F-150 pick-up truck before police shot the driver – twice.
Timber Mesa Fire and Medical District posted an emergency mass casualty announcement on Facebook at 07:49 on Saturday 19 June:
Arriving emergency workers started triage care on-scene and transported critically injured cyclists to Summit Healthcare Hospital in Show Low, where the event took place. One rider was air-lifted by helicopter to trauma center Phoenix.
Tony Quinones, 55, of Santa Fe, New Mexico told The New York Times, he had been riding for about six minutes in a large pack when a pickup in the opposite direction crossed over three lanes and headed directly toward the cyclists before plowing into them and a telephone pole in what Quinones viewed as a “targeted attack.”
“I don’t know who the heck this guy is, or what his motive was,” Mr. Quinones said to The New York Times on Saturday. “ He drove his truck directly and intentionally into our group, and you could hear him accelerate until he hit that telephone pole.”
The truck driver, a 35 year-old white male, fled the scene after crashing into a pack of 50-60 riders just after the Arizona State Championship race started. Police providing support for the event quickly pursued the truck driver and attempted to stop him which ultimately led to the suspect being shot twice when he was deemed a “significant threat” to advancing police officers
Police announced later in the day that the truck driver was alive, in critical condition and under armed guard at the same hospital as the victims.
Just under 300 amateur cyclists were participating in Bike The Bluffs 13th edition of the race in the White Mountains of Arizona three hours east of Phoenix.
Arizona is ranked as one of the most dangerous states for cycling by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and by the newer more accurate Fatalities per Bicycle Miles Traveled (BMT) metric. The state is in the Top 10 Most Dangerous States for Cycling, #7 on FARS and #9 on BMT. Massachusetts is ranked as the safest state.
The desert Southwest has seen a rash of amateur cyclist deaths at the hands of motorists recently, including Joanna Wheaton in Flagstaff, Debra Ceschin in Scottsdale and 5 cyclists in Nevada killed by a truck driver high on drugs.
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